Jump Start # 1926
Acts 11:29 “And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea.”
The destruction of hurricane Harvey is now being felt and witnessed throughout the world. Dozens and dozens of Christians have been affected. Many lost homes and cars and are a point in life that starting over seems nearly impossible. This may ruin some families. For this generation, this may be the greatest need we will ever see among our brethren.
Our passage today reminds us of a time that a prophet warned of a world wide famine. No water. No crops. Dying livestock. The brethren in Antioch sent money to the elders in Jerusalem to help the brethren. This is the pattern we follow to this day. We need to help our fellow man. This is what the good Samaritan story is all about. But churches help fellow members. The church money goes to brethren.
Some thoughts for all of us:
First, we are one large family of God. Although we worship in separate and independent congregations, we belong to each other through the blood of Christ. This is why hurting one another or trash talking one part of the family hurts all of the family. We are connected. This hurricane has impacted our family in Christ.
Second, the needs are enormous. Supplies, man power and especially money is needed. There are multiple sites listening the names of brethren who are in dire need. Paypay accounts and Gofundme accounts are easy ways for individuals to send money directly to our family in Christ. This is going to be a long process with many layers of needs. Just sending a check one time probably won’t be enough for this.
Third, real sacrifices need to be made. It may be necessary for some congregations to rethink some of their plans in order to help out our family in Christ. Spending thousands on new carpet for the auditorium, or send that same money to brethren in Texas? Carpet is nice and it’s probably needed, but maybe because of the circumstances, we can live with it for another year and help our brethren. As we head to fall Gospel meeting times, I challenge my fellow preachers to donate their meeting money to help our brethren. I have decided to do that with my remaining meetings this year. Folks in Texas need it more than I do.
A sacrifice hurts. A sacrifice costs. That’s the very idea of a sacrifice.
Fourth, abled bodied men who have ability may need to go to Texas to help. What better feeling than knowing here are some brethren from all over the country coming to help their brethren in need. Go knowing this isn’t a sight seeing trip. You need to plan to be dirty, wet and tired. Don’t go if you are going to stand around and take pictures. Go to help. Multiple groups with supplies are on the way down now. Consider taking your vacation to help these folks. This is something that they will forever be appreciative of and it is something that will change you forever.
Fifth, pray. Pray privately for these folks. Pray in our congregations for these folks. In a short while, maybe even this week, the news media will move on to the next hot story. Texas will still be suffering. Recovery is slow and tedious. Don’t forget our family in Christ.
Sixth, Biblically, the question comes up, why did God allow so many of His own people to suffer? Why did God allow His people to suffer from the famine that our verse talks about? Why did God allow His people to suffer in Egypt? The answer to this is that we live in a broken world. Since Adam ate the forbidden fruit, the world has been falling apart. Disease, disaster, crime, violence and tragedies have plagued this planet. The world groans for relief, Romans tells us. This isn’t Heaven. It never will be. As long as we are on this planet, we are subject to destructive weather, sins of others, and the steps necessary to bring about death. Our hope is not for a better planet but for a home with God. In Luke 13, we learn about the murder of Galileans who were worshipping and a tower that fell and killed 18 people. Jesus’ response? Repent. You repent. This is what life is like in a broken world. The innocent are not sheltered. People like Abel are murdered. Righteous people like Job suffer. If fingers need to be pointed, it’s not upward to Heaven, but it’s in the mirror to ourselves. We did not directly cause the hurricane in Texas, but we contributed to the world being broken by our own sin. I preached on this last Sunday evening. Someone afterward said, “If Adam had never sinned, then there would be no hurricanes?” I said, “in theory you are right. But in reality, I would have let you down, because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Seventh, being structured in independent congregations, as the New Testament teaches, can lead to isolation if one is not careful. We can stick our heads in the sand and only care about our specific people in our congregation and ignore everyone else. We could, but that’s not very loving. We could, but that wouldn’t please the Lord. We could, but reading our verse today ought to sting us about helping brethren elsewhere. Global communication allows us to be in touch world wide and fast these days. We can know. We can share information. We can help.
Finally, the simple golden rule reminds us that helping others, especially our brethren, our family in Christ, is the right thing to do. Next time, it may be us who are in need. What would you want done if it was your home, your cars and all your possessions that were lost?
I hope both individuals and congregations step up at this time. I hope folks will go above and beyond in helping others. I can only imagine someday in Heaven running into someone who embraces us and says “thank you, because of what you did years ago when I was in Texas. You made a difference to me.”
Share this Jump Start with others. Post and share this to encourage our family in Christ to help out. Print this in bulletins and get the word out. Our family is in need. Can we help? Will we help?
Let’s be generous! Let’s do it the Bible way!